(Reuters) - Enbridge Inc said it plans to restore southbound natural gas flows on part of its Texas Eastern (TETCO) pipeline in Ohio by the middle of next week following an explosion on one of three lines there this week.
The shutdown on Monday forced drillers using the pipe to reduce output in the Marcellus and Utica shale in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia, the nation’s biggest gas producing region, a week before a polar vortex is expected to freeze the eastern half of the country.
Total output in the Marcellus and Utica slipped from 30 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) before the blast to around 29 bcfd on Monday-Friday, according to financial data provider Refinitiv.
One billion cubic feet is enough gas for about 5 million U.S. homes for a day.
TETCO told customers in a notice late Thursday it was working to return at least one of the undamaged pipes in the area of the blast and increase north-to-south flows there to around 1 bcfd between Jan. 28-30 from zero now.
That would be just days ahead of the forecast deep freeze, which is expected to bring the coldest weather in over a decade to parts of the Midwest and very low temperatures in the Northeast and Southeast, according to meteorologists at Radiant Solutions.
Before the blast, which injured two people and damaged three homes near Summerfield in Noble County in southeast Ohio, about 1.2 bcfd of gas was flowing south on TETCO from Ohio toward the Gulf of Mexico, according to Refinitiv.
After the explosion, TETCO started moving up to 0.2 bcfd of gas north into Kentucky and Ohio.
On the eastern side of the damaged pipe, flows in Greene County in southwest Pennsylvania also reversed direction.
About 0.6 bcfd was moving toward the Gulf Coast before the blast. Since then, about 0.5 bcfd has been heading east toward New Jersey. Greene County is one of Pennsylvania’s biggest gas producing counties.
Enbridge said the damaged section of 30-inch (76.2 centimeter) pipe was built in 1952-53.
The 9,029-mile (14,531-km) TETCO pipeline was designed to carry gas from the U.S. Gulf Coast and Texas to high-demand markets in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast, according to the company’s website.
It became bi-directional over the past five years, enabling it to also carry gas from the Marcellus and Utica shale, where production is growing rapidly, to markets in the U.S. Midwest and Gulf Coast.
Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by David Gregorio